Heart Biography

This durable US rock band features the talents of sisters Ann (19 June 1951, San Diego, California, USA) and Nancy Wilson (b. 16 March 1954, San Francisco, California, USA). The elder sister had released two singles as Ann Wilson And The Daybreaks on a local label in 1967. After a series of unreleased demos she took her sister to Vancouver, Canada, in search of a backing band. There they found bass player Steve Fossen (b. 15 November 1949) and guitarist Roger Fisher (b. 14 February 1950), and Heart was born (two initial monikers, the Army and White Heart, were rejected). After Dreamboat Annie emerged on Mushroom Records in 1976, their second single, ‘Crazy On You’, brought them to public attention. Michael Derosier (b. 24 August 1951, Canada) had previously become the band’s first permanent drummer.

They maintained their high profile when Little Queen and the single, ‘Barracuda’, became mainstays in the US charts. By the time Dog And Butterfly arrived in 1978, the professional relationships within the band had escalated to ones of a more personal nature, with Nancy Wilson dating guitarist Fisher, while sister Ann was involved with his brother, Mike. Mike Fisher, who had once been part of the group’s embryonic line-up, had become their unofficial manager. However, before sessions for Bebe Le Strange on Epic were complete, the relationships had soured and Roger Fisher left the band, leaving the group bereft of the lead guitar that had previously been so prominent in the group’s formula. The guitar parts were covered on tour by Nancy and multi-instrumentalist Howard Leese (b. 13 June 1953, Canada), who became a permanent member.

By the time they resurfaced with Private Audition in 1983, Fossen and Derosier were also on the verge of departure. Their replacements were Mark Andes (b. 19 February 1948, Philadelphia, USA; ex-Spirit) and Denny Carmassi (ex-Montrose and Sammy Hagar), though their efforts on Passionworks were not enough to inspire any kind of revival in Heart’s fortunes. Their confidence was bolstered, however, when Ann’s duet with Mike Reno (Loverboy) produced ‘Almost Paradise... Love Theme From Footloose’, which rose to number 7 in the US charts. When Epic allowed their contract to lapse, Heart joined Capitol Records in 1985, seemingly with their career in its death throes. The new label brought about a transformation in the band’s image, projecting them as a more rock-orientated concern, but could hardly have expected the turnaround in Heart’s fortunes that resulted. Heart gave them a number 1 in the USA, and the highly lucrative singles ‘What About Love’ and ‘Never’, before ‘These Dreams’ finally achieved the equivalent number 1 slot in the singles chart. The follow-up, Bad Animals, was almost as successful, stalling at number 2. While both Wilson sisters continued to work on soundtrack cuts, the most profitable of which was Ann’s duet with Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), ‘Surrender To Me’, Nancy married former Rolling Stone writer and budding film director Cameron Crowe.

Heart’s success continued with the long-projected Brigade in 1990, from which ‘All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You’ (written by Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange) became a Top 10 hit in the UK and a number 1 in the USA. Both Wilson sisters then became involved in solo projects, while former companions Fossen, Roger Fisher and Derosier embarked on a new dual career with Alias, who had two big US singles hits in 1990. The sisters returned as Heart in 1993, backed by Schuyler Deale (bass), John Purdell (keyboards), Denny Carmassi (drums) and Lease (guitar) and found themselves with another hit on their hands in ‘Will You Be There (In The Morning)’, which preceded Desire Walks On. The Road Home was an acoustic live album with production by John Paul Jones, released to mark the band’s 20th anniversary.

Nancy Wilson was subsequently kept busy with her soundtrack work, providing instrumental scores for her husband’s movies Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky. She reunited with her sister in 2004 to record a new Heart album Jupiter’s Darling.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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